Can I Still Sue Someone After a Car Accident?
As we’ve mentioned before, New Jersey is a no-fault car insurance state. What does this mean? And is it still possible to bring a lawsuit against another party?
It is possible, but for only a few reasons. Let’s break it down.
The Limited Right to Sue” Following an Auto Accident
When you get into an auto accident in New Jersey, your own car insurance will be responsible for paying your expenses, such as medical bills, loss of wages, and other out-of-pocket expenses. However, your insurance company will only pay up to your coverage limits. So if you have a basic car accident policy, any expenses will be covered under the policy up to the limits of your PIP coverage, no matter who was at fault.
But let’s say you were seriously injured in your accident and your basic limits won’t cover all your expenses. Is it possible to sue the other driver to cover the rest of the expenses? Unfortunately, with a basic policy, you are bound by something called the “limited right to sue.” This means the injured person can only pursue a legal claim against another for only a certain number of reasons, which are:
- A loss of a body part
- Significant disfigurement or scarring
- A displaced fracture
- Loss of a fetus
- A permanent injury (for example, you broke your leg to the extent that you will walk with a limp for the rest of your life)
For example, you have a basic car insurance policy and get into a serious accident with a distracted driver. You break your neck, causing paralysis. It’s going to take months to heal from such an injury and hundreds of thousands of medical bills. With a basic policy, your coverage will only pay for a fraction of these medical bills. But since you have a permanent injury, you do have the ability to sue the at-fault driver. However, if your injury was less severe, say only a broken arm, you won’t be able to sue because the injury is not severe enough.
Bodily Injury Liability Insurance
Another thing to keep in mind with a basic policy is bodily injury liability insurance is not required (although it can be added). Bodily injury liability will cover the expenses of a car accident in which other drivers or passengers are injured. So if in the car accident scenario above, if your passenger was injured as well, because you don’t have bodily injury liability insurance, you may be responsible financially for any losses not covered by PIP insurance.
But let’s say you have a standard insurance policy, which includes bodily injury liability. Are you still bounded to the limited right to sue? If you have a standard policy, then you have the choice between the “limited right to sue” and “unlimited right to sue” options. Remember, with the limited option, you can only sue the at-fault driver if your injuries are severe enough to step out of the no-fault claim. But, if you select the unlimited option, you can bring a lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
Contact Us For More Information
Car insurance can be quite difficult to navigate, especially in New Jersey. That’s what after a car accident, it’s important to speak with an experienced car accident lawyer to learn what your options are. Contact the Law Offices of Anthony Carbone today to learn your legal options.